Perception of the social, psychological and medical aspects of subfertility by couples and women who have conceived as a result of fertility treatment: a qualitative study.

Catja Warmelink*, Janiek Meijer, Nienke Mulder, Sybren Mulder, Mirjam van Lohuizen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Nearly 5% of new-borns in the Netherlands are now born following Medically Assisted Conception (MAC), a steadily increasing number. Our qualitative study explored the subjective impact of subfertility and fertility treatment for parents who successfully achieve pregnancy following MAC and make health professionals more aware of the psychological needs of those clients. The study was based on the constructive/interpretative paradigm using a constant comparison/grounded theory design. Two men and nine women in the Netherlands who conceived as a result of MAC were interviewed in 2011. Our findings show that MAC-parents were exposed to a range of emotions such as disappointment, hope and uncertainty during the subfertile period, and these feelings were even felt after successful fertility treatment. The relationship and social support from friends and others in the same position were very important. Regarding the relationship with the partner during the subfertile period, the main thing the couple have to do is to keep talking with one another. Although they did not always agree on all issues, it was found that maintaining the communication strengthened the links between them by the end of the process. We concluded that the feelings and emotions during fertility treatment play a big role during the subfertile period and remain important during pregnancy and even after childbirth. Subfertile clients want maternity care providers to ask those who successfully achieve pregnancy following MAC about their experiences during fertility treatment, check that they still are receiving adequate social support, and involve the partner in prenatal checks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)830-845
Number of pages16
JournalOpen Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Publication statusPublished - 8-Dec-2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Subfertility, Fertility Treatment, Maternity Care, Perception, Qualitative Research

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